Hey, I’m no “sexpert” by profession or credentials. But to my credit, I’ve had more sexual partners than I can write, recite, or recall. And, most of all, I have thoughts about sexuality. Which is not at all to say I think a lot about sex. No, that’s not the case. I do think about how we define and understand sexuality. Maybe you do too.
Why? Because sexual identity is a fundamental aspect of our identities. We say “beauty is skin deep” but sexual identity is anything but skin deep. Sexual identity is in our bones.
Not only that, but there are all sorts of political, social, and religious implications to sexuality.
As for me, I’m now a gay man who has lived as a straight man, and a bisexual man at points in my life.
And for most of my life, I’ve understood that sexual orientation is fixed. Perhaps even fixed from birth.
However, I can tell you from experience that just because something is fixed that doesn’t mean it’s found. For some of us, there is a process to take off what covers us.
But my LGBTQ community seems to love the fixed theory. Our thoughts are, “why fix what was fixed,” right?
To be sure, other communities love the fixed theory too. But in the LGBTQ community, we have anthems, we have banners, and we have hashtags all to proclaim how we were Born this Way. And even as a member of the LGBTQ community, I wonder if there’s an inherent conflict of interest to those claims? Maybe so.
Still, the “born this way” claim is a valid one supported by sense and science. So, the conventional wisdom is that sexual orientation is fixed.
And, they also told us how there are scales and grids to sexual orientation. They said there’s a range to all the places and people we go sexually.
With all of that, we also let this idea seep in that — hey, sexual identity is fluid, or at least it can be fluid. This means you can have some direction but then decide to identify a different way.
This fluidity idea says we shouldn’t be so quick to box and label people. That’s a waste of time and it’s stifling because people can come out of boxes and rewrite the labels. Go figure, people change.
So now, we appear to have mixed messages on the subject. Accordingly, it is fixed, but not necessarily absolute, and at any time it may swing, swish, sway, or sashay.
Did I get it right? It’s all quite dizzying.
As for me, I’m just trying to get my head level (never straight) on the subject.
On a personal level, while I have no ordinary romantic or sexual interest in women, I could choose to be with a woman. That is if a woman would choose to be with me too.
But I maintain, I could fall in love with a woman and I could be happy with a woman just the same. While I’ve whispered that to people before, I always feel people think I’m crazy.
But back on this fixed idea, I like the idea that my orientation is fixed.
To me, it means my orientation was prepared in advance for me. In other words, my sexual orientation was set in place, assigned, and handed down to me.
But, I can choose to accept, deny, or suppress the assignment, right? I want to compare it to having my school lunch prepared by my parent.
My lunch was made according to my culture, tastes, and inherent dietary needs. I usually accepted it and I liked my lunch. After all, I had a basic need to eat, you know what I’m saying?!
But, on any given day of my choosing, I have choices. I could choose not to eat my prepared lunch. I could choose to alter what was prepared. Or, I could choose something else. I could even trade and share my lunch with someone else if I wanted.
I may also decide one day, after licking my lips at meat my whole life, that I only want to eat fish. But, on the other hand, if you try to force feed me or make me feel forced about a meal, that’s not going to work.
Can we look at sexuality like a prepared meal? Is that okay? You know other people have used food and dietary habits to describe sexual preferences, orientations, and allergies.
But people do get nervous with these thoughts because they suggest we can change our assignments. Do we think of sexual identity like a game of musical chairs? There’s a limited number of chairs that experts snatch away as we go around and around. That game will ensure we sit alone, which if that’s what we want that’s fine too.
But with these ideas about sexual fluidity, I can almost hear homophobes saying something about “lifestyle choices.” I don’t know why they even use the word choice. Their issue is not only with choice but with selection too.
But don’t we have some choice about how we identify? Isn’t there some agency in the individual to express their sexual identity?
And if you think about it, it makes sense! There’s good reason to believe there’s a difference between all of these terms: sexual orientation, sexual orientation identity, and sexual behavior.
And that matches the notion of sexual fluidity. Which means, my expression or lack of expression, of my sexual orientation identity is mine. I choose my identity.
We’ve all heard people say they don’t identify a certain way. They may say this in reference to gender, religion, race, or some other aspect of identity. And depending on how outlandish we think their claims are we accept or deny how they identify.
But why can’t we just let others define or redefine themselves?
We shouldn’t be scared of fluidity, we should embrace fluidity. Fluidity frees and validates all of us. And we can still hold on to the proof that it’s adverse to try to change your orientation.
I think the word fluid says it all for me. Sexual identity, how we identify sexually, is fluid. It’s fluid by flowing and not by forcing.
Some of us feel a flow that we have a choice to go with or not.
Others of us are fastened and we can’t be forced to flow anywhere for anyone. It’s possible any of us could flow one day, all day, even a few times a day. But if not, there’s no need to force us, fuss us, cuss us, or must us.
But we can’t deny that flowing is possible. We should make room for people to flow naturally and freely.
Myself, I’m with the flow. What do you think?
The flow is open.